Value Added Producer Grants Keep Local Farms Local For Years to Come

Yesterday, we heard from Steve Tate, who along with his wife Leah own The Goat Lady Dairy in Randolph County, NC about their expansion plans with a Value Added Grant recently awarded to the business by USDA. Tate explains what their expansion plans include for the dairy in an effort to sustain the business beyond he and his wife’s retirement:

“The grant, which doesn’t pay for buildings or equipment, that we applied for pays for working capital. It has enabled us to hire a full time sales and marketing staff. We have hired additional cheese making staff as well. The grant reimburses you for money you spend in these areas.”

And part of those expansion plans, according to Tate was to bring in two partner farms, and expand their market:

“We are really hoping that the business can stay farmer owned and employee run. And still be a part of the Tate Family Farm. We are trying to become a medium sized producer, meaning a bigger business in the wholesale market. We are already selling to 90 stores and restaurants in NC, but now with the expansion and being able to make a lot more cheese, we have to be able to support these two partner farms. We have to make and sell enough cheese that we purchase enough milk from these two farms that they are sustained.”

Another method of increasing market share, especially with dairy products is organic production, and Tate explains they are working towards that:

“We are not organic, but we practice as many sustainable acts as we can. Its very difficult with goats to be organic. We are trying with our new partners to move toward that. The cow milk that we use to make cheese is certified organic.”

Tate explains that keeping as much of the finished product on the farm is going to help keep The Goat Lady Dairy a viable agribusiness for years to come:

“When farmers can process their own raw product and be involved in their marketing a lot of good things happen. One is that more of the profits stay on the farm making it more sustainable. The other thing is you keep the food more local so that people in a given region can get local artesian products where they know the place its made. We are really excited that the USDA has taken some of their resources to make all of this happen.”

Steve Tate with The Goat Lady Dairy farm. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.